Pharmacoequity: A Call to Action


From Dispensary of Hope
Brittany Simpson, PharmD Candidate 2022
Belmont University College of Pharmacy

Have you started to hear more about population health, health equity, or pharmacoequity in your workplace or even communities? These are newer terminologies that have been in the spotlight, particularly over the last several months being brought forth with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ideas covered are the basis of the care that we, as healthcare providers, should strive to embody each day, while being advocates for our patients and practice.reviewed population health vs. public health. In this article, we focus on health equity topics. Pharmacoequity is a term coined by Utibe R. Essien that is meant “to portray a health system where all patients, regardless of race, class, or availability of resources, have access to the highest quality, evidence-based medical therapy indicated for their condition.”1 Another interpretation of this term can be seen by understanding equality vs equity and what this means for the patients we serve. Equality is defined as “the state or quality of being equal,” while equity can be explained as the quality of being fair or impartial.equity; this image helps to explain how giving the same care to individuals, who are unique in their own ways, can impact the quality-of-care patients receive.

You’re probably wondering why patients receive different care if equity is our end goal. This can be explained by looking into the social determinants of health (SDoH) and how these factors impact the care patients receive. Image 2 outlines many reasons why individuals do not receive the quality care or equitable care they deserve. Much research has been done to conclude that by
addressing SDoH we can improve healthcare outcomes and aid in reducing the healthcare disparities. An example of how SDoH can negatively affect health outcomes is a patient who does not have access to healthy meal options or fresh produce, may have a higher risk of comorbidities such as diabetes, obesity, or heart disease, just to name a few.

Ericajoy Daniels, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer at Advocate Aurora Health, depicts SDoH in another way- through the Covid-19 pandemic. She states, “COVID started to hit communities in a continual way that shone a light on the disparities and the inequities and how marginalized communities get impacted differently.”6 She adds that the implications behind telling someone to mask up for protection or to quarantine in a secluded area, while some people may not have access to fulfil these tasks; an example she gave was individuals living in multi-generational homes who do not have their own private place. Many of the SDoH that were not as easily seen before Covid, we are forced to address out of sheer need- a need that has been there all along.

As healthcare providers, addressing SDoH and working towards pharmacoequity starts with each of us in our daily practice. Being aware of SDoH is important, because as part of the Dispensary of Hope, these barriers are removed for patients each day. As a network we are helping to provide quality care and access to care to any patient no matter their ability to pay, education, residency, or lack of coverage. Combined efforts will be needed to serve the needs of individuals with inadequate healthcare coverage, approximately 30 million people. Imagine a world with such unity – that is pharmacoequity, what we should strive for daily.

1. Essien UR, Lin F, Yeh C, et al. Pharmacoequity: a new goal for ending disparities in health care – STAT. Published July 28, 2021. Accessed August 10, 2021. health-care/
2. Jungkunz M. What is the difference between “equality” and “equity”? Published November 4, 2020. Accessed August 10, 2021.
3. Cultures Of Dignity. Equity and Equality lesson – cultures of dignity. Published March 18, 2020. Accessed August 10, 2021.
4. Implications of COVID-19 for social determinants of health. Published June 9, 2021. Accessed August 10, 2021. determinants-of-health/
5. Social determinants of health. Accessed August 10, 2021.
6. Desilva R, Daniels EJ. How to Holistically Invest in Health Equity. The Academy Table; 2021. Podcast Link.
7. ABC: Weaver A, Holland J, Palombo C, Blackburn H, et al. Dispensary of Hope White Paper; Published 2016. Accessed August 2, 2021.

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